We’re about a month away from the start of the NHL’s 2023-24 regular season, so it’s good time to look at and breakdown the predictions for the 2023-24 NHL Season
The talk right now is that the Atlantic Division is where the fiercest competition will lie, but that may not be true.
NHL Western Conference vs. NHL Eastern Conference pic.twitter.com/2IwsdRzqeO
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) February 27, 2023
But it will be on the West to step up and prove that wrong. The Pacific and Central Divisions have several strong clubs, which includes the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Using the odds provided by some sports betting sites, we build the picture of the Western Conference.
There is also little movement expected from last year’s playoff picture. Seven of eight teams in the Western Conference from last year’s playoffs are predicted to make it once again, while the Calgary Flames are the odds-on favorite to replace the Winnipeg Jets as a playoff team in 2023-24. The Vancouver Canucks expected to miss the playoffs, yet again, with 88.5 points.
- Colorado Avalanche 106.5
- Dallas Stars 104.5
- Minnesota Wild 96.5
- Edmonton Oilers 105.5
- Vegas Golden Knights 104.5
- LA Kings 100.5
1st Wild Card Seattle Kraken 93.5
2nd Wild Card Calgary Flames 95.5
Winnipeg Jets (91.5)
Vancouver Canucks (88.5)
Nashville Predators (87.5)
St. Louis Blues (87.5)
Arizona Coyotes (74.5)
Chicago Blackhawks (72.5)
San Jose Sharks (70.5)
Anaheim Ducks (67.5)
The Battle for the Top
The current odds have the Oilers and Avalanche set to win their divisions, but also battle for Western Conference supremacy. Neither team has set their sights on being the regular season champion as both set their goals, to win the Stanley Cup.
Colorado wants to prove that last season’s dip is a fluke, that they can win the Cup again. They have added Ryan Johansen as their second line center, which is a gamble considering his inconsistent 2022-23 season. Yet he still has a lot to offer, especially when insulated behind players like Nate MacKinnon with a blueline led by superstar Cale Makar.
RYAN JOHANSEN HAT TRICK!!! 🎩🎩🎩 pic.twitter.com/JcUPt3FlVs
— NHL (@NHL) April 6, 2022
Colorado is a club that must find it’s overall offensive punch, as they lacked depth on that front last season, but also improve their penalty kill, which was just above 79%. As long as Alexander Georgiev continues to play at his impressive .919 save parentage pace, an Avalanche team that returns to health could be as potent as they were when they won the Cup, even without their captain Gabriel Landeskog, who will miss another season with a knee injury.
Edmonton has one of the best one-two punches with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Both have been worthy of NHL MVP honors every year for several seasons in a row, and there’s nothing to think they won’t play to that level, or better this coming season. The one area they need to become consistent and reliable is in net. Stuart Skinner will be entering his second NHL season and be looked at to shake his nervous rookie energy in the playoffs. But in the regular season, Skinner is going to be expected to continue his strong play.
Stuart Skinner joins Grant Fuhr (1981-82) as the only goaltenders in Oilers history to be named a Calder Trophy finalist pic.twitter.com/Ot7Eh9KK9R
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) May 3, 2023
Backup Jack Campbell will need to find his game again if he is to ensure the Oilers can win in any game. While he finished the season with a 21-9-4 record, his .888 save percentage demonstrated an inability to win low scoring games, needing significant goal support to get those wins.
Non-Playoff Teams that Could Shock Us
There is time for teams that are expected to be out of the playoffs to make significant additions. Teams like St-Louis have passed the baton to the youth of the organization and have become the team of Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas.
That's filthy, Jordan Kyrou pic.twitter.com/R8QXPUmu7G
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) May 8, 2022
They are doing a retool on the fly and could use a defender like Torey Krug as trade bait to bring in a top six capable winger to replace the goals they lost from Vladimir Tarasenko, Ivan Barbashev and Ryan O’Reilly.
They are also a team in transition, moving on from expensive centers Ryan Johansen, who was traded after a disappointing season, and 32-year-old center Matt Duchene who was bought out by the Predators.
Matt Duchene has 3 years remaining on his contract and therefore the buyout will last 6 years
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) June 30, 2023
The Preds hold over $7 million in cap space they could use to add to the lineup if they see fit. With a new general manager in Barry Trotz and a new head coach in Andrew Brunette, this is a team that could come out of the gates with a new system and youthful exuberance, two things that could provide them the extra intangibles they need to leapfrog into a wild card playoff spot.